WASHINGTON, April 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- On April 4, Governor McAuliffe signed SB 658, a bill that takes the first step towards removing dangerous criminals from the streets of Virginia. The new law, sponsored by State Senator Richard Black (Leesburg) requires all Virginia law enforcement agencies to account for any untested sexual assault kits in their evidence storage facilities. By doing so, Virginia joins a growing number of states taking steps to account for valuable, yet long ignored, rape case evidence.
Across the country, communities are discovering large numbers of untested rape kits and are ramping up efforts to address this problem. While victims wait for justice, their rapists, many of which are repeat offenders, remain free to victimize men, women, and children. With evidence sitting idle in storage rooms and warehouses, these criminals also commit other crimes, like burglary and theft. Rapists are not specialists.
Cleveland, Detroit, New York City and Houston have all demonstrated the power of testing rape kits. In Detroit, after testing 1,600 backlogged kits they identified 100 serial offenders, 10 convicted rapists and found that perpetrators had moved on from Michigan to commit similar crimes in 23 other states. Detroit has also identified many violent crimes – including at least one murder of a police officer - that would have been prevented had the rape kits been expeditiously tested.
The Rape Kit Action Project (RKAP) has provided support to legislators and victim advocates in more than 15 states with the goal of enacting legislation directing audits of untested kits and mandating submission and testing. Knowing the scope of the problem is the first step to solving the problem. RKAP stands ready to support Virginia to implement and ensure compliance with the new law, and hopes that other communities will follow this lead and address their untested rape kits issue.
The Rape Kit Action Project (http://natashasjusticeproject.org/rape-kit-action-project) was created to encourage and advocate for the enactment of state legislation mandating the accounting and testing of all un-submitted rape kits estimated today to be near 400,000, putting DNA evidence to work to ensure justice for the victims of sexual assault and safer communities to live and work.
SOURCE Rape Kit Action Project